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Weighted Blankets: Benefits, Do They Actually Work and Are They Worth The Money?

Some claim weighted blankets decrease anxiety and promote a better night's sleep, but do they hold up against studies and can you justify the price tag?

Close up of a gray weighted blanket
Getty Images/Cavan Images/Cavan

When you think about it, investing in a good night's sleep can be expensive. There's buying the right mattress, a comfortable duvet, supportive pillows, soft sheets and maybe even a mattress topper or mattress pad. On top of that, there are many more options in the market that attest to helping you attain the perfect amount of ZZZs each night. One of which is a weighted blanket.

Sleep accessories can cost a little more than you may think. So, you may be asking yourself, if I already have a comfortable bed, do I really need to invest in a weighted blanket? And do weighted blankets even do everything they claim?

If you're considering one, here's everything you need to know before adding a weighted blanket to your bedroom. 

Read more: Best Weighted Blankets

What is a weighted blanket?

Often used as therapeutic devices, weighted blankets are dense blankets designed to promote sleep and decrease stress. Weighted blankets can weigh anywhere from 5 to 30 pounds. There are many options out there, but it is recommended that the weight of the blanket you choose is equal to 10% of your body weight. The right blanket should be comfortable and heavy but not completely restrict your movement. It should feel similar to a big hug. 

Weighted blankets are available to anyone interested (although, they aren't deemed safe for babies or children under 3 years old). However, these products especially appeal to those who have trouble falling asleep at night, and they have also been used to comfort those with special conditions.

Weighted blankets are used to help those with:

Whether you're looking for new sleep accessories, want to try something new or live with a condition that inhibits your sleep, a weighted blanket might be for you. 

Are there other benefits of investing in this product?

Woman sleeping under weighted blanket
Getty Images/Katelin Kinney/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Potential benefits of weighted blankets

It's no secret that weighted blankets are designed to help those with anxiety (similar to a hug used to comfort a friend). In case that benefit doesn't concern or interest you, there are other benefits to sleeping under a few extra pounds of blanket. 

Overall sense of calm

Those who have tried a weighted blanket describe the feeling as similar to being held by a loved one. The weight and sensation encourage you to relax and decompress.

Increased serotonin levels 

Similar to how hugs increase serotonin, weighted blankets deliver the same kind of deep pressure stimulation and, therefore, serotonin. This is why weighted blankets supposedly help anxiety and depression. The increased serotonin levels, or "happy, feel-good" hormones, help combat both.

Increased oxytocin levels

In addition to serotonin, the deep pressure stimulation of weighted blankets may increase oxytocin levels in our brains, another "feel-good" hormone. This helps us feel safe, calm and destressed.

Reduced movement 

If you often toss and turn at night and are looking to be more static (or not disturb a partner as much), this benefit might interest you. The weight of the blanket helps to hold you in one place, yet it doesn't completely restrict you. Your blanket should be heavy but still be comfortable. 

Improved quality of sleep 

One of the most important benefits of weighted blankets is the improvement of your sleep. The weight of the blanket cradles you and may even decrease the number of times you wake up in the middle of the night. All of the above benefits help to lull you to sleep, and weighted blankets are said to improve that sleep. 

Do weighted blankets actually work?

The big question with any product that might seem too good to be true -- does it actually work?

One study from 2018 concluded that weighted blankets may be an appropriate therapeutic product for those living with anxiety. The same study found that while weighted blankets may decrease anxiety, there wasn't much evidence that it treats insomnia.

A more recent study from 2020 reported that weighted blankets improved sleep quality among subjects, but the improvements were small (a 2% decrease in light sleep, 1.5 % improvement in sleep efficiency and 1.4% in sleep maintenance). Although, 36% of subjects said they slept better through the night without waking up.

While the findings from this study, as well as the 2018 study, seem to suggest that weighted blankets have the possibility of being effective with sleep, there aren't many studies that show the opposite. More research needs to be completed before the final say, but as of now, experts aren't saying that weighted blankets are ineffective.

All in all, weighted blankets aren't magic. But it has been proven that they (at the very least) help to ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, autism and release serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.

Woman underneath a weighted blanket
Getty Images/Catherine McQueen/Moment

Are weighted blankets worth it?

Due to recent demand and increased popularity, many people have been turning to weighted blankets as an extra device of comfort. Whether they are anxious, stressed or looking for a way to ease symptoms of depression or Autism Spectrum Disorder, weighted blankets seem to be a great sleep tool. 

However, weighted blankets don't solve major anxiety, depression or sleep-related issues. If extreme anxiety or insomnia is constantly keeping you awake at night, speak with your doctor or a licensed therapist to create the best possible treatment plan. In addition, weighted blankets are an investment. Just like any other sleep accessory, good weighted blankets can be pricey. 

If you think a weighted blanket could be useful to you, review these points before buying.

Consider investing in a weighted blanket if:

  • You're looking to improve your sleep and ease your mild to moderate anxiety 
  • You want to ditch your melatonin supplements and try a new way to fall asleep faster
  • Your bed is missing an extra level of comfort 

Spend your money on something else if:

  • You live with sleep apnea or severe asthma, as a weighted blanket could be too constricting
  • You already have too many sleep accessories cluttering your bed
  • You're a hot sleeper and like light layers at night

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.